Waterford’s Stiles Cemetery, located just south of I-93’s exit 1 on Route 18, recently got a facelift thanks to a collaboration between Anair Memorials and the Disabled Americans Veteran’s (DAV) St. Johnsbury chapter.
According to the DAV, there are at least eight veterans buried in the historic cemetery: two served in the Revolutionary War, three in the War of 1812 and another three served in the Civil War or militia.
The chapter has been trimming the hedge along the cemetery for years and replaced the Revolutionary War veteran John Chaplin’s crumbling headstone in the past. This May, they approached St. Johnsbury’s Anair Memorials for a quote to repair another headstone.
Instead, Steve Lowery, the third-generation owner of Anair Memorials, after seeing the cemetery, offered to clean and reset all of its 48 headstones for the low cost of $400, which the DAV agreed to pay.
Lowery said that the work would have normally cost between $1,500 and $1,800 and involved five hours of careful pressure watching, bleaching marble and lifting and replanting the heavy stones in their original spots. He said that he did the work at such a discount because of the historic nature of Stiles Cemetery, adding that he is interested in keeping up other cemeteries in town as well.
Helen Pike, president of the Waterford Historical Society, said that the group is incredibly grateful that the DAV has “adopted” the cemetery.
“The fact that the DAV has stepped in to improve this cemetery and care for veterans’ stones that are there is significant,” she said. “We are grateful that they are doing this and welcome other groups who might want to adopt our cemeteries in this way.”
According to Pike, the town has around 10 cemeteries, three of which are active and maintained by the town. She said the others tend to be ignored, with the exception of Eagle Scout or capstone Girl Scout projects, due to the large size of the town compared to its population.
According to Waterford Historical Society director Beth Kanell, the land at the outlet of Stiles Pond, located across the road from Stiles Cemetery, was purchased around 1797 by Revolutionary War veteran Captain John Stiles. He put up a sawmill, powered by the pond, many families settled in the area, and it became known as Waterford Hollow.
Kanell notes that many of the family names in the cemetery endure in town: Adams, Bonnett, Gaskill, Huntley, Richardson, Willey and Young. She adds that the late history professor and former state senator for Caledonia County, Graham Stiles Newell, has relatives buried in the cemetery.
“The Stiles Cemetery … reminds Waterford residents that their town’s centers of business have shifted over time,” Kanell writes. “Although much of Waterford Hollow had vanished, the little-changed Lee farm, the gracious architecture of White Birch Farm, and another cemetery nearby, the Hill Cemetery, add to the evidence that the Stiles Cemetery offers today of the vibrant village that once was.”